Warning to anyone who’s had Covid over risk of brain complications

PEOPLE who have had Covid-19 are more at risk of developing brain complications, experts have warned.

Across the world millions have had the virus – with 22million having had the bug in the UK alone.

Warning to anyone who’s had Covid over risk of brain complications
Experts have warned that those who have had Covid could be at risk of brain disorders

Following the illness – many people have developed long Covid, which refers to a collection of symptoms that can last weeks or months after the infection has gone.

This includes suffering with extreme tiredness, chest pains, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.

But medics have now warned that if you’ve had coronavirus, then you are also at an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and ischaemic stroke.

Experts in Denmark looked at 919,731 who took tests for the bug.

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They found that 43,375 people who tested positive had a 3.5 times increased risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Doctors looked at data taken between February 2020 and November 2021 and also found those who had Covid were at a 2.6 times increased risk of developing Parkinson’s.

They were also 2.7 times more likely to suffer ischaemic stroke and 4.8 times more likely to suffer a bleed on the brain.

Lead author of the paper Dr Pardis Zarifkar, from the department of Neurology, Rigshospitalet in Denmark said: “More than two years after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the precise nature and evolution of the effects of Covid-19 on neurological disorders remained uncharacterised.

“Previous studies have established an association with neurological syndromes, but until now it is unknown whether Covid-19 also influences the incidence of specific neurological diseases and whether it differs from other respiratory infections.”

However, it’s important to note that medics said the risk of brain complications was no higher in Covid patients than in people who had suffered with other respiratory illnesses such as the flu.

Medics did find that coronavirus patients had a 1.7 times increased risk of the flu and pneumonia in patients aged 80 and over.

Dr Zarifkar said more studies on a larger scale needed to be carried out in order to fully establish the risks.

“Reassuringly, apart for ischemic stroke, most neurological disorders do not appear to be more frequent after Covid-19 than after influenza or community-acquired bacterial pneumonia.

“These findings will help to inform our understanding of the long-term effect of Covid-19 on the body and the role that infections play in neurodegenerative diseases and stroke,” he added.

Experts at the University of Oxford previously found that the brain could be ‘irreversibly’ damaged by the bug.

The study found a number of effects on the brain, on average 4.5 months following infection.

Covid survivors had a greater reduction in grey matter thickness and tissue damage in regions of the brain associated with smell.

They had a reduction in whole brain size and, after performing a number of tests, showed a drop in cognitive function.

The study, published in the journal Nature in March, echoes the findings of a number of others.

Researchers at Tulane University reported findings based on studying primates, which are used in studies for the likeness to humans. 

They found severe brain swelling and injury linked to reduced blood flow or oxygen to the brain.

Meanwhile, researchers – including from the universities of Imperial College London and Cambridge – found that Covid can cause a “substantial drop” in intelligence.

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Another study reassured that “brain fog” shouldn’t persist for more than a year.

Covid patients scored significantly worse in episodic memory and in their ability to sustain attention on a task over time.